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Friday 23 February 2024 @ 08:00pm :  -

Hodmadodderyphoto: #ferrarabuskersfestival

Hodmadoddery began in Park Street, Bath, in about 1986. We can blame some mutual friends for suggesting we might sound good together; they know who they are and they know what responsibility they bear. Throwing together a bunch of songs from both of our previous musical lives, and learning a few more from people we were very keen on at the time (Dick Gaughan and Christy Moore, for a start), we soon worked out we could get people to buy us drinks for playing, so out to play we went.

A nice cider pub called The Beehive, was the place; they’d give us unlimited farmhouse cider, Thatcher’s I expect, and allow us to take a collection round the pub at the end of the night. So if we didn’t get much we’d at least take some cider back to Park Street with us. We would share Tuesday or Wednesday nights, don’t remember which, alternate weeks with ‘Cramped in the Corner’, a collective of Bath luminaries some of whom are in quite good bands nowadays.

Tony must have seen sense at one point. He tried to get away. Made it as far as India, in the company of Vanessa. For the usual reasons they came back some months later, but for the obvious reasons urban Bath wasn’t really relaxing after Hampi and they fled again, this time in Nessa’s van and this time to Italy. That was their next big mistake, that and telling Steve where they were. Tony and Nessa would live the travelling life most of the year, even up to three straight years on the road in a series of vehicles, and that lightweight Henwood would come out and play at being a traveller in the summer, play a lot of music and drink a lot of wine - Ness & Tony by then of course spoke excellent Italian and had loads of mates; life on the road it might have been, but not so hard, at least not in the summer.

It was during one of these trips that we got the Italian Street Festival bug badly. Tony, if I’m getting things in the right order, had already participated in festivals at Pelago and Schio, but in August 1991 we wandered into Ferrara just as their soon-to-be-enormous Buskers Festival was ending for the year. Not knowing we weren’t supposed to, we played an arch just off the main piazza on the last night, the Thousand Lire notes fluttered into our guitar cases, and we went away with the resolve to 'do the festival properly' the following summer. We were invited performers at the 1992 event, where we also met the legendary Cosmic Sausages, and a whole lot of bad habits were started. Since then we’ve played Ferrara every year except two, and other festivals up and down the country, notably at Bassano Del Grappa, Stigliano, Novara, Castellaro, and for our great mates at Pennabilli Artisti In Piazza.

Over time, and especially after Tony’s life on the road ended, we dropped the regular street busking and just did the festivals. We also played in France, and there was a famous trip through the Alps and Aosta. By this time we were also playing proper gigs in England too: Steve had inveigled himself into running some of them, via acoustic open stage nights (which were quite a rarity in them days, hard to believe, I know), and we’re particularly pleased with having been the traditional opening act on The Bandstand at Glastonbury Festival (for some years the first stage of the whole festival to kick off with live music) since more-or-less the beginning, and having supported the Incredible String Band no less than twice.


Hodmadodderyphoto: #ferrarabuskersfestival